- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grayson Cellars, Pinot Noir, California, 2004, $14

I certainly was skeptical when I tried this wine. Most value-priced pinot noirs aren’t worth buying, particularly if they carry only a California appellation.

They tend to taste sappy and hot because the grapes usually come from inappropriately warm growing areas. Scorching heat can rob this delicate varietal of any trace of nuance or subtlety, resulting in stewy, sugary wines that offer virtually no pleasure.

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This wine from Grayson Cellars, however, offers genuine pinot charm and so it fairly overflows with pleasure. It’s light in color and body, as wines made with this grape typically should be, with a soft, silky texture. Its fruit flavors resemble cherries and red berries, enhanced by secondary notes recalling savory spice. As an added bonus, it has a long, lingering finish, something usually found only in more expensive wines.

Try this surprising pinot noir with roast chicken, grilled salmon or any dish that calls for a light-bodied red. Since many, if not most, California pinots that cost twice as much are not in its class, this is a wine well worth buying by the case.

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